Sylva Kelegian’s mission to save every suffering dog in the world has taken on many forms: joining a protest, trapping stray dogs at a landfill over the course of a year, and writing a book to raise awareness, to name a few.
As an actress who splits her time between New York City and Los Angeles, for more than two decades she has dedicated much of her life to her career. It allowed her to star in Off-Broadway plays, and appear in television dramas such as “Desperate Housewives,” “Bones” and “CSI” and movies such as “Spider-Man” and “Atlas Shrugged.”
But after adopting her first dog, Sammy, in 2000, she found a second calling. Rescuing Sammy made her realize that there are many dogs out there like her that need loving homes. Whenever she wasn’t working, she devoted herself to searching for abused or stranded dogs and placing them in deserving homes.
Since she started her mission, she has rescued and found homes for nearly 600 dogs.
“I feel like I’m living in a Third World country here in L.A.,” she admitted. “Dogs are all over the streets. People give up their dogs every day for the most inane reasons most of the time.”
Ms. Kelegian put her acting career on hold for the last two years to become immersed in what she describes as a “spiritual journey.” She saved as many dogs as she possibly could and worked toward changing and enacting animal-related laws.
She and her husband, Jude Ciccolella, have adopted three more dogs in the process: Charlie, who they adopted from New York City; Shadow, who was one of 45 dogs she saved from a landfill; Maisie, who they adopted from a Los Angeles rescue group; and Nate, who she found stranded under a car. She speaks about this experience in her 2015 award-winning memoir, “God Spelled Backwards: The Journey of an Actress into the World of Dog Rescue.”
She is promoting her memoir through a national book signing tour in order to raise awareness of the importance of dog rescue. The tour that took her around the Pacific Northwest will now bring her to Southampton Books on Thursday, August 11, at 6 p.m. She plans to speak about the book and her inspirational involvement with dog rescue, and will promote her children’s literature book, “The Dolphin Princess,” which she published the same year as her memoir.
“With ‘God Spelled Backwards,’ people say they laugh, cry and they can’t put it down. Readers will be entertained and educated,” Ms. Kelegian said. “‘The Dolphin Princess’ is really for children and adults. It’s a middle-grade book. My husband called me the Dolphin Princess during our honeymoon 19 years ago.”
The event is free and open to anyone interested in learning more about her story and her two books. Dogs are welcome, too. For more information, visit southampton-books.com.
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